U.S. Department of State Kicks-Off "Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative" With U.S. Soccer, Sends Sports Envoys to Engage Youth in Malaysia

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 17, 2012

As part of the “Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative,” the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Soccer announced today a series of Sports Envoy programs to take place in Algeria, Argentina, Malaysia, Morocco, and Venezuela this spring. Sports Envoys are current or retired athletes, coaches, or sports administrators who travel overseas on behalf of the United States to engage youth.

During her remarks today at the International Olympic Committee’s World Conference on Women and Sport, Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, outlined the new initiative that will mobilize the Sports Envoys and Sports Visitors programs. She also announced a new Sports Mentorship program, which will serve as a key pillar of the initiative.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case the game of soccer – to bring people together and foster greater understanding.

Beginning today, former members of the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams will be dispatched across the world to engage women and girls on the soccer field.

Danielle Slaton and Tony Sanneh will travel as Sports Envoys to Malaysia. Former General Manager of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT), Cheryl Bailey, will join on this trip as the first Sports Administrator to focus on girls’ sports program administration.

In March, Kate Sobrero and Linda Hamilton will travel to Algeria, while Amanda Cromwell and former USWNT coach Lauren Gregg will go to Argentina. Also in March, Siri Mullinix and Lorrie Fair will travel to Venezuela. In April, Angela Hucles, Marian Dalmy, and University of Washington head coach Lesle Gallimore will lead Sports Envoy programs in Morocco.

While overseas, former National Team players, coaches, and administrators will conduct soccer clinics for underserved youth, including girls. The Sports Envoys will engage youth soccer coaches in discussions about techniques and methods, including the differences between coaching girls and coaching boys. They will also work with program administrators to increase the sustainability of girls’ soccer programming. Sports Envoys will also participate in community outreach activities and have a dialogue on the importance of leadership and respect for diversity. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 150 athletes and coaches to more than 50 countries.

SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ division devoted to sports diplomacy programs at the U.S. Department of State. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought more than 900 athletes from 58 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sports Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent more than 200 U.S. athletes to over 50 countries to participate in Sports Envoy programs.

PRN: 2012/242